Timeline of Norse colonization of the Americas

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Prehistoric settlement

Map of the Americas showing pre Clovis sites. Pre-clovis-sites-of-the-americas.svg
Map of the Americas showing pre Clovis sites.

It's widely accepted that humans first arrived by the Beringia Land bridge, some estimates claiming this occurred as early as 43,000 years ago. [1]


Norse colonization

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greenland</span> Autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark in North America

Greenland is an island country in North America that is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. It lies between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Greenland is the world's largest island. It is one of three countries that form the Kingdom of Denmark, the others being Denmark and the Faroe Islands; the citizens of all these countries are citizens of Denmark and of the European Union. The capital of Greenland is Nuuk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vinland</span> Area of coastal Canada explored by Norse Vikings

Vinland, Vineland, or Winland was an area of coastal North America explored by Vikings. Leif Eriksson landed there around 1000 AD, nearly five centuries before the voyages of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. The name appears in the Vinland Sagas, and describes Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as far as northeastern New Brunswick. Much of the geographical content of the sagas corresponds to present-day knowledge of transatlantic travel and North America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Greenland</span> Aspect of history

The history of Greenland is a history of life under extreme Arctic conditions: currently, an ice sheet covers about eighty percent of the island, restricting human activity largely to the coasts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Erik the Red</span> Norse explorer

Erik Thorvaldsson, known as Erik the Red, was a Norse explorer, described in medieval and Icelandic saga sources as having founded the first European settlement in Greenland. He most likely earned the epithet "the Red" due to the color of his hair and beard. According to Icelandic sagas, he was born in the Jæren district of Rogaland, Norway, as the son of Thorvald Asvaldsson. One of Erik's sons was the well-known Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leif Erikson</span> Norse explorer (c. 970 – c. 1020)

Leif Erikson, Leifur Eiríksson, Leiv Eiriksson, or Leif Ericson, also known as Leif the Lucky, was a Norse explorer who is thought to have been the first European to set foot on continental North America, approximately half a millennium before Christopher Columbus. According to the sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, which is usually interpreted as being coastal North America. There is ongoing speculation that the settlement made by Leif and his crew corresponds to the remains of a Norse settlement found in Newfoundland, Canada, called L'Anse aux Meadows, which was occupied approximately 1,000 years ago.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Norse colonization of North America</span> Viking settlement begun in the 10th century

The Norse exploration of North America began in the late 10th century, when Norsemen explored areas of the North Atlantic colonizing Greenland and creating a short term settlement near the northern tip of Newfoundland. This is known now as L'Anse aux Meadows where the remains of buildings were found in 1960 dating to approximately 1,000 years ago. This discovery helped reignite archaeological exploration for the Norse in the North Atlantic. This single settlement, located on the island of Newfoundland and not on the North American mainland, was abruptly abandoned.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Markland</span>

Markland is the name given to one of three lands on North America's Atlantic shore discovered by Leif Eriksson around 1000 AD. It was located south of Helluland and north of Vinland.

<i>Skræling</i> Peoples the Norse Greenlanders encountered in North America

Skræling is the name the Norse Greenlanders used for the peoples they encountered in North America. In surviving sources, it is first applied to the Thule people, the proto-Inuit group with whom the Norse coexisted in Greenland after about the 13th century. In the sagas, it is also used for the peoples of the region known as Vinland whom the Norse encountered and fought during their expeditions there in the early 11th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brattahlíð</span> Archaeological site in Greenland

Brattahlíð, often anglicised as Brattahlid, was Erik the Red's estate in the Eastern Settlement Viking colony he established in south-western Greenland toward the end of the 10th century. The present settlement of Qassiarsuk, approximately 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest from the Narsarsuaq settlement, is now located in its place. The site is located about 96 km (60 mi) from the ocean, at the head of the Tunulliarfik Fjord, and hence sheltered from ocean storms. Erik and his descendants lived there until about the mid-15th century. The name Brattahlíð means "the steep slope". The estate, along with other archeological sites in southwestern Greenland, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2017 as Kujataa Greenland: Norse and Inuit Farming at the Edge of the Ice Cap.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gunnbjörn Ulfsson</span> 10th-century Norwegian explorer

Gunnbjörn Ulfsson, also Gunnbjörn Ulf-Krakuson, was a Norwegian settler of Iceland. He was reportedly the first European to sight Greenland. A number of modern place names in Greenland commemorate Gunnbjörn, most notably Gunnbjørn Fjeld.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alluitsup Paa</span> Place in Greenland, Kingdom of Denmark

Alluitsup Paa is a village in the Kujalleq municipality in southern Greenland. Alluitsup Paa had 202 residents in 2020. Presently, the community's religious activities take place in Qaqortoq.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastern Settlement</span>

The Eastern Settlement was the first and by far the larger of the two main areas of Norse Greenland, settled c. AD 985 – c. AD 1000 by Norsemen from Iceland. At its peak, it contained approximately 4,000 inhabitants. The last written record from the Eastern Settlement is of a wedding in Hvalsey in 1408, placing it about 50–100 years later than the end of the more northerly Western Settlement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Western Settlement</span>

The Western Settlement was a group of farms and communities established by Norsemen from Iceland around 985 in medieval Greenland. Despite its name, the Western Settlement was more north than west of its companion Eastern Settlement and was located at the bottom of the deep Nuup Kangerlua fjord.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ivittuut</span> Place in Greenland, Kingdom of Denmark

Ivittuut is an abandoned mining town near Cape Desolation in southwestern Greenland, in the modern Sermersooq municipality on the ruins of the former Norse Middle Settlement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">L'Anse aux Meadows</span> Norse archaeological site in Newfoundland, Canada

L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site, first excavated in the 1960s, of a Norse settlement dating to approximately 1,000 years ago. The site is located on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador near St. Anthony.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hvalsey Church</span> Church in Hvalsey, Greenland

Hvalsey Church was a Catholic church in the abandoned Greenlandic Norse settlement of Hvalsey. The best preserved Norse ruins in Greenland, the church was also the location of the last written record of the Greenlandic Norse, a wedding in September 1408.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sandnæs</span>

Sandnæs, often anglicized as Sandnes, was the largest Norse farmstead in the Western Settlement of medieval Greenland. Similarly with the Norwegian city of Sandnes, its name meant "Sandy Headland" in Old Norse. It was settled around AD 1000 and abandoned by the late 14th century. It was located at the site known as Kilaarsarfik today, at the head of the Ameralla Fjord south of modern Nuuk's peninsula.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Herjolfsnes</span> Archaeological site in Greenland

Herjolfsnes was a Norse settlement in Greenland, 50 km northwest of Cape Farewell. It was established by Herjolf Bardsson in the late 10th century and is believed to have lasted some 500 years. The fate of its inhabitants, along with all the other Norse Greenlanders, is unknown. The site is known today for having yielded remarkably well-preserved medieval garments, excavated by Danish archaeologist Poul Nörlund in 1921. Its name roughly translates as Herjolf's Point or Cape.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vatnahverfi</span>

Vatnahverfi was a district in the Norse Greenlanders’ Eastern Settlement (Eystribyggð) and is generally regarded by archaeologists and historians as having the best pastoral land in the colony. The Norse settled Vatnahverfi in the late 10th century and farmed there for nearly 500 years before mysteriously disappearing from the district and the entirety of Greenland, likely at some point in the latter 15th century. Its name is roughly translated as “Lake District."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Garðar Cathedral Ruins</span> Church in Igaliku, Greenland

Garðar Cathedral, known formally as the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, was a Roman Catholic cathedral church located in Garðar, situated in Igaliku, Greenland. It was the first cathedral erected in the Americas, and is among the oldest surviving example of European architecture in the Americas. The cathedral was reduced to ruins and nowadays only its foundation can be seen.


  1. Vachula, Richard S.; Huang, Yongsong; Russell, James M.; Abbott, Mark B.; Finkenbinder, Matthew S.; O'Donnell, Jonathan A. (2020). "Sedimentary biomarkers reaffirm human impacts on northern Beringian ecosystems during the Last Glacial period". Boreas. 49 (3): 514–525. Bibcode:2020Borea..49..514V. doi: 10.1111/bor.12449 .
  2. Seaver 1996, pp. 205, 229: 205: a reference to sailors in Bergen in 1484 who had visited Greenland (Seaver speculates that they may have been English); 229: archaeological evidence of contact with Europe towards the end of the 15th century.

Other sources